"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What part of "know" don't you understand?

Know . . .

1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty: I know the situation fully.
2. to have established or fixed in the mind or memory: to know a poem by heart; Do you know the way to the park from here?
3. to be cognizant or aware of: I know it.
4. be acquainted with (a thing, place, person, etc.), as by sight, experience, or report: to know the mayor.
5. to understand from experience or attainment (usually fol. by how before an infinitive): to know how to make gingerbread.
6. to be able to distinguish, as one from another: to know right from wrong. (source)

This morning I was reading the remainder of Matthew 11 so I could record my notes, but I couldn't get past this verse:

27"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

The "no one knows" parts became like a riddle to me. I realize Jesus spoke often in parables - telling a simple story in order to teach a spiritual lesson - and thanks to helpful teachings over the years I think I grasp the significance of most of those. However, this verse threw me for a loop as I tried to make sense of it.

I started thinking of the word "know." Recently my neighbor was discussing a mutual friend and made the comment that India knows everyone. And she also made the same statement about Andrew since one Sunday evening we went out with them and Joyce noticed how Andrew knew a couple of people in the restaurant. You often hear reference to certain people who seem to "know" everyone in town.

Truth is, most of this "knowing" is just having various degrees of awareness of who certain people are, maybe something about their families, jobs, community activities and so forth, right? Or maybe I should say there are many levels of "knowing." I can say I "know" someone I've met in the past, yet do I really know what makes her tick? What she enjoys doing in her free time, if she even has free time, her favorite color, foods, vacation spots, political leaning, views about God. Like I can tell a fellow blogger that I "know" Amber or Sarah or Suroor, but it varies how much I know about each one. Who knew Amber found glee in reading and writing shark posts until she revealed this bit of news the other day? (Actually the "glee" part is found in the labels.) And I didn't realize Sarah enjoyed the guitar until recently. Suroor and Lat -- yeah, I "know" these ladies yet I don't even know where Lat lives. And Wafa', my sweet Saudi friend, I've never seen a picture of her. So I "know" all these fine ladies, but to varying degrees, right?

All that to say, "knowing" someone can be knowing on different levels. Indeed Dictionary.com records an archaic definition as "to have sexual intercourse with." Anyone reading the King James Version of the Bible realizes this when Adam knew Eve and suddenly she is pregnant. So "know" can be an intimate knowing as well.

And I think you can intimately know someone without the sex. You can learn about people's interest, their hearts' desires, their likes and dislikes, what makes them angry, what melts their hearts, what moves them to tears.

Back to Jesus and his Father as recorded in the above verse. What does the Father knowing the Son and the Son knowing the Father mean? Many people knew Jesus during his time on earth. In fact, he had many followers and twelve who were his close disciples. Surely they knew quite a bit about Jesus, yet why does Jesus here seemingly speak in riddles and say something like "No one knows the Son except the Father."

One might argue, of course God knows people best. Duh, He made them! He has every hair numbered and knew us before we were even born. This is what Jesus was speaking of. But then how do you explain the rest of the riddle "and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Jesus is saying he knows the Father AND others can know the Father through his (Jesus') revelation of God. Does this mean God is unknowable apart from Jesus? I've been wrestling with the idea of God as a force, an energy, a spirit since I have a hard time relating to loving something that is not human or not able to be seen. In my mind, I picture God a certain way even if He's just a pure white "man" covered with clouds and brightness. It's difficult thinking of him without human qualities and features! How does one love a force? How does one love the universe (if the universe is God for instance)? Does Jesus put a human face to God and this is why Jesus said, "if you've seen me, you've seen the Father"?

What do you think?


Amber said...

I believe that God the Father is essentially unknowable, yes. If God could be *known*, in the entire definition of that word, then He would be able to be compassed by human understanding. And that would make Him limited, and therefore, not God. God is a Mystery and Unknowable. All the we know of Him is revealed through the auspices of the Son. But even that is not even a fraction of His entirety.

I think the 'problem' you have with loving a force is common. It may be why so many focus solely on Christ, almost to the neglect of the Father and the Holy Spirit. But God, while not human and therefore recognizable and understandable on the same level as us, is not just a 'force', but a person. How? Why? We don't understand. We never will. But given that He does interact with us, in ways that are real and recognizable, and not just like gravity or the sun, we know that He is not a mindless creative 'force'.

caraboska said...

I have never felt the need to visualize God. Very occasionally when I have been extremely depressed, I have had [non-physical] visions of a vaguely humanoid figure in a plaid flannel shirt and jeans coming to comfort me. The hair color is different every time, the pitch of the voice is different every time, but I know it's the same person. And the giveaway as to the person's identity, to my mind, is that I never actually see his face...

Lat said...

"...yeah, I "know" these ladies yet I don't even know where Lat lives"

Haha!ROTFL! :D
I thought you knew thru' FB.I live in the tiny red dot sandwiched between two awesome tsunami hit areas in SEA :)

Isn't it cool? To 'know' people from all over? That's one Big reason I love the net.I digress.

As I've once said before,Jesus was more like a mystic master.One needs to be initiated as a disciple to 'know' the master.Otherwise you cannot learn the 'tricks'.That's something I've learned from Sufism.

It's like the drop of the ocean.When the drop falls back into the ocean,you cannot distinguish it from the rest and becomes one.Just my thoughts.

Nocturnal Queen said...

The Bible says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15.) God is Spirit. (John 4:24, Ephesians 4:4.) In order to see Him, you have to look at Jesus.

"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

Suroor said...

I shall not comment because you mentioned something about all your "friends" except me :P

Therefore I shall remain silent. I am only a lady you know :P and you don't even know so well.

Good I never told you I can play the guitar. Serves you well for neglecting me!

Suroor said...

Alright, now that I have been the drama queen, I can get serious :-D

Remember my recent status update: Any fool can count (in other words know) the seeds in an apple. Only God can count (does know) all the apples in one seed.

I think that is what Matthew 11:27 means. As humans we will never know God, as God can know us humans being the God. He *tried* to explain Himself to us through His messengers and wise men - men, who I think, contemplated about God and gave us their interpretations of what He is and what He wants. But even those men have an hierarchy and perhaps Jesus knew that he was the cream of the crop :-D

I just love Jesus! My love for him gushes forth. And I agree with it Lat; I have always seen him as a mystic teacher. I will confess that I am not so humble when it comes to accepting human masters. I like to do my thinking for myself (one reason I was thrown out of a Sufi circle :D). But I have no issues with accepting Jesus as my mystic master :-)

When I was little my mother told me this long tale about heaven and hell and then she asked me that if I went to heaven and wanted something (which I would be promptly given) what would I ask for? I said, if Heaven is true and I can have anything I want then I'd ask to hug Jesus!

My mum often tells everyone the story with the tagline "my daughter is a Jesus hugger"!

Susanne said...

Amber, thanks for your great comment. I'm glad to know I'm normal (heh!) in having a problem with loving a force. It's just weird to imagine such a thing when my mind tends to want a visual of what God is like...and my mind wants to make Him look at least part-way human or angelic (according to artists' works of angels.)

"But given that He does interact with us, in ways that are real and recognizable, and not just like gravity or the sun, we know that He is not a mindless creative 'force'."

Really loved that. Sometimes when I go outside to read in my rocking chair on the porch, I pretend God is sitting in the other chair fellowshiping with me helping me understand. I DO think He's involved. Maybe I'm way too much of a visual person...hmmm.

Thanks much for your comment!

Susanne said...


"I have never felt the need to visualize God."

I don't really feel the NEED, but my mind just automatically starts putting a picture in my head. Like when I talk to bloggers without knowing what they look like, my mind creates a mental picture that I tend to associate with a certain name. Does that make sense?

So it's not so much that I NEED to picture God, my mind just automatically starts creating an image. Great! My mind makes idolsssss! Argh!

How interesting about the flannel, jean-clad image you have had. Wow!

Thanks for sharing that! I appreciate your comment.

Susanne said...

Lat, aha! Glad to know you are from the Tiny Sandwiched Red Dot Land! :-D Now I know! ;)

"Isn't it cool? To 'know' people from all over? That's one Big reason I love the net.I digress."

I totally agree! I absolutely love having friends from so many places around the world! It's fantastic! :-D

Oooo, your Sufism/mystic thoughts on Jesus and the ocean were very interesting. It's always nice reading your perspective since we come from such different backgrounds. I'm really glad you shared that. Thank you much!

Susanne said...

Niki, I also thought of those (or similar ones) verses while writing this post. I'm glad you brought them up. That's the way I think of it. Jesus is God in the flesh/God incarnate/God with us (Emmanuel). We might not recognize God as Spirit -- lots of people deny the existence of God because they cannot see Him, but people could see Jesus and his perfection and realize...hmmmm, there's *something* about this guy that's pretty special! :)

Thank you for what you added!

Susanne said...

Suroor....let's see....it will take a whole post to tell all I know about you! Ha, ha! And now I can add "drama queen" and guitar player to the mix? Wow! *scribbling notes* ;-) :-D :-P

Glad you came back to comment again!

"Remember my recent status update: Any fool can count (in other words know) the seeds in an apple. Only God can count (does know) all the apples in one seed."

Oh, I love that! How wise!

I really like what you shared especially this: " I said, if Heaven is true and I can have anything I want then I'd ask to hug Jesus!"

So Suroor is also a Jesus hugger. *scribbles more notes*

I'm getting to KNOW you quite well! :-D

Thanks much for what you added. I really enjoyed everyone's great comment! I appreciate them so much!

Anonymous said...

In addition to the aspects of "knowing" you've already listed, add to it the "knowledge" of physics and the universe. For that matter, add to it the concept of quantum mechanics. One tires of the effort.

The idea of knowing God becomes an exercise in chasing one's tail. I like to remember a quote from the Al-Anon meetings I used to attend (in a previous life) when I was in love with a drunkard:

"Take what you need and leave the rest."

Susanne said...

Marahm, that sounds like good advice indeed! Thank you for your comment, welcome and glad to see you back writing on your blog! Thanks for dropping by. :)